Several family and friends who have been added to the National Registry in honor of Jacquie have been called to be the life-saving donor of a patient in need. They have found it to be a very emotional, fulfilling, and rewarding experience. To date more than 20 individuals have been contacted by transplant teams and many have already donated to patients in need.
Some of our donors who registered at drives held for Jacquie and by the Foundation have graciously put into words what it means to give and what it means to give LIFE.
I was so excited when 2 summers ago I got a call from the National Marrow Registry saying that I was a potential bone marrow match for someone! Jacquie was waiting to have her second transplant and I was hopeful that I could give someone that same hope and chance to live. After going for some tests to see if I was indeed “THE” match for the person in need, I received a letter saying that the transplant was no longer going to happen as anticipated. Almost exactly one year later, I received another phone call from the registry – the recipient to whom I had been a potential match for, was healthy enough to have a transplant and her doctors had selected me as her match!! I was overjoyed to hear that it was the same person from the year before, and hopeful that after the transplant she would have the opportunity to lead a long and healthy life.
I decided to do the traditional marrow collection and it was scheduled for August 13, 2009. After finding out that I was a match in June, I was in and out of Roswell many times in the next few months. Everyone I encountered at Roswell was amazing – absolutely wonderful, kind, and caring individuals – all extremely dedicated to what they do. The Bone Marrow Transplant Team was incredible. Dr. Smiley and Dr. Battiwalla were wonderful, as were Dana, Sue, Karen, and all of the other people I was lucky enough to meet during my visits to Roswell. The BMT wing was so full of hope and it was so inspiring to be with people who work to save so many lives everyday. Throughout the whole donor process, I could not help but think of Jacquie and the incredible impact she has had on so many peoples’ lives.
Her legacy continues as more family and friends who are in the registry have the opportunity to help save the lives of others. Almost everyone I met at Roswell, in all different departments, asked how and why I was on the registry in the first place. Almost without exception, as I began to tell Jacquie’s story each time, the person would stop me and tell me what an unbelievable person Jacquie was, or how they had never seen so many people in and out donating marrow, blood, platelets etc. in honor of one person. EVERYONE knew Jacquie.
Donating was truly life changing for me, and I really consider myself to be so lucky to have had this experience. I received one letter so far from my recipient and although I already knew that donating had been so worth it, hearing from her was incredible. I am hopeful that I will hear from her again someday. I can’t wait to tell her all about Jacquie. Regardless of if I do hear from her again, because of Jacquie, my recipient and I are connected in a very unique and special way. And, of course, I hope to get the wonderful news that she is completely cancer free!!
My name is Thomas Pelych and I recently completed a peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation. I would like to briefly share a little bit about my experience. I hope that my experience will lead you to make the same decision, or to simply join the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) Registry. Approximately two months ago I learned that I may have been a possible match for a patient with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, or AML, for short. I will not disclose the age or sex of my recipient out of respect to that person and due to the fact that his or her treatment is still ongoing, but I will divulge that the recipient is a parent with three children. My decision to donate was already a foregone conclusion, however, this information further deepened my desire to help this person. After the final testing, I was informed that I was chosen as the best match for the patient and I was to proceed as the donor.
The one aspect regarding my donation that I would like to highlight is how simple it really is to donate, specifically in regard to a PBSC donation. Embarrassingly, as an individual that possesses an extraordinary apprehension to needles, blood, etc., I found all of the procedures to be surprisingly non-invasive. In fact, the actual donation only took one day and I was fully-recovered with ample time to take a law school final only four days later. Moreover, the staff at the NMDP and Roswell Park Cancer Institute were extremely helpful, patient, and compassionate. All of the people involved continually accommodated my specific needs and it leads me to believe that they would do so for any donor.
The point I would like to make is that the actual donation process is disproportionately pain-free when compared to the ultimate potential outcome. I am currently waiting for the latest update concerning my recipient so I cannot fully express my final feelings regarding the donation, but it has been a very rewarding experience thus far. The knowledge that I have potentially furthered the life of a parent of three children makes me feel good about myself. I have been told that there is a chance that I will need to donate stem cells to the same recipient in the future and although some aspects of the process were difficult, I would do so again in an instant. The chance to help someone in such a unique way – even if it does not eventually prove to be life-saving – is an opportunity that I could never pass up and I hope that you will feel the same.
My name is Mae Lankes and I just wanted to personally pass on the great news that I have been asked to donate bone marrow for a 51 year old lady with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I just wanted to tell you how honored I am to be honoring Jacquie’s memory by giving another person a chance at life. I hadn’t told you earlier because I wanted to be certain that I was the person that they choose to donate, as they were looking at a few other candidates. However, last week I found out that I was the best match available and I will be donating bone marrow in Rochester this Thursday and Friday. I am on the Blue Wave and even though I was never super close with Jacquie, I loved hanging out with her and she was always a friendly smiling face to see on campus. She has had a tremendous impact on my life and it is because of her bone marrow drive in Buffalo that I registered for the donor list.
Before knowing Jacquie, I hadn’t really thought about registering to become a bone marrow donor and knowing her has changed my view on many things in life, as well as changed the life of the lady that I am donating bone marrow to. This past week as I have gone to many doctor’s appointments in Rochester, and everyone asks me how I came to join the list, I feel so proud to tell them about Jacquie and how her fight against cancer is continued by all who know her. I hope that I have the chance to contact the lady who receives my bone marrow so that I can tell her all about Jacquie and my reasons for joining the bone marrow registry. The type of donation that I am doing is called peripheral blood stem cell donation, where I take shots for the week before the donation to release the bone marrow stem cells into my blood. They then take the blood from my body one unit at a time and take the cells they need then put the rest of the blood back into my body. I am also partaking in a research study to research what causes Graft-versus-Host Disease in patients that receive bone marrow from unrelated donors.
It is my hope that this research will help work closer to finding a cure for cancer. I know that this past year and a half has been more difficult than I can imagine, but I’m hoping that you find some comfort in the fact that Jacquie is still helping other people and still fighting against cancer. I think of it as Jacquie is the one donating bone marrow, not me, as she was the person that inspired me to join the registry. I cannot express to you how honored I am to be helping someone else in their fight against cancer, and for that I thank you for inspiring me.
Dear Torey, Sharon, and TJ,
In late 2007 my family attended your fundraiser/marrow drive. We arrived late and while in line the drive sponsors ran out of kits for testing to join the registry. I assume the response for donors that day must have been overwhelming. Eager still to be a donor, I ordered my kit after the event and joined by mail. The process is so simple I often wonder why everyone wouldn’t want to do it.
In March of this year I was contacted and identified as a possible match for a transplant patient. Unfortunately I found out yesterday that it is unlikely I will be selected to move forward for this person. To say that I am saddened I could not help this patient would be an understatement. I only hope a better match was identified.
I wanted to share this information with you (however disappointing personally) to acknowledge your efforts and the efforts of your Foundation. Without them, there would not have been this opportunity to help someone in need. Without them, there would not be the opportunity to help in the future.
Through the years I have witnessed and admired the growth of your Foundation and the relentlessness in raising awareness and money for a cure. My family and I thank you for making a difference with all that you have done and all that you continue to do.
MELISSA C. LEWIS
Hi Jacquie For A.L.L. Friends,
I actually was contacted as a potential match in mid-November 2013. Shortly after the new year, I heard back saying that they wouldn’t need me to go any further. While I didn’t donate, it was exciting to see that I could be helping someone in their fight against cancer. I am a sister of SDT and was living at 14 Court with Jacquie in the fall of 2007 when she was diagnosed. I signed up for the registry at the Geneseo drive that semester. I was the first time I’ve heard something from the registry and it was nice to know that even though it was been several years, I’m still able to help someone who may need it.
The following letters have been received by bone marrow donor recipients whose matches were on the list after a bone marrow drive hosted by the Foundation. These letters are proof that a simple cheek swab can truly change a life.
Thank you to everyone who has become a potential life-saving match!
There aren’t any words deep enough to tell you how truly grateful I am to you for your courage and generosity. Thank you seems like so little. You have given me a chance to overcome a terrible disease. I was told that you are a twenty year old woman. You are very brave and kind to help me.
I am 43 soon to be 44 year old women, married with two teenage children. I was so worried I may not have a chance to see my son off to college and begin his life, or my daughter grow up and get married. All these things you think about and worry about as a parent. Will I still be there for them and will I be healthy enough to help them when they need me? You have given me that chance. Thank you so much.
I’ve been thinking about you so much since Sunday – it was so great that you called just as we were celebrating our transplant anniversary with family and friends. On the Carepage that we had during my illness you were referred to as ‘Donny Donor’ and many wonderful things were said about you and your marrow. (Weird, huh?) So now we have an actual name and people were very moved by your call, me included.
I just thought I would just tell you a little about me and Jim. Since we have been married almost 45 years, out history is pretty much the same. We have always lived in Minnesota, but I grew up in the North and he in the city. We have two sons, John (43) and Patrick (41) – they are both married to women named Dawn Marie. They both have Facebook pages – I am working again on mine. We have 6 grandchildren ages 7-18 with another on the way quite soon. Very exciting. Our kids live quite close so we get to see them often. Family is a big deal for us.
Professionally, I have been an English teacher, a Special Ed. teacher, and then a middle school counselor for 20 years before retiring last year. Kids are my passion, especially the underprivileged, and soon I will be able to find another way to help. I have had to stay clear of too many germs for the lat 18 months. Not a natural way for me to live.
Jim was also a teacher, social studies, and also a hockey/golf coach before becoming the activities director at one of our large high schools, retiring 5 years ago. We are both into sports, nature, reading, and travel.
Joe, you have no idea how grateful I am everyday to be able to look ahead to many more years of a wonderful life. I look so forward to getting to know you better and we really will meet one day. I want you to know that you are a hero!
You can respond when and as you like. Jim said, ‘Don’t overwhelm the guy, Mary,’ so I won’t, but I am so anxious to know more about you and what made you make this wonderful contribution that ended up with me. Also, ask me anything you are curious about.
Take care, Your New Friend